Home > The Protector(3)

The Protector(3)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas


I snap my thoughts back into line before they run away with me.

No. I can’t, not even for that kind of money.

“I was beginning to like you, Lucinda,” I say quietly under my breath as I bash out a reply.

She’ll know I’ll be struggling without anything to focus on. Drinking and fucking just aren’t cutting it after weeks of indulging in both with a lack of an assignment, but sending me this offer is plain stupid. Is she trying to kill me off? I’m about to click send when the Google search bar beckons.

“Fuck,” I mutter, typing a few words into the empty space that’s begging to be filled.

I immediately hate what I see. A woman—mid-twenties perhaps, with slender legs and a dangerously tempting smile. Her long blond hair is tousled and braided haphazardly over her shoulder as she sips champagne at a garden party, surrounded by drooling men.

I was spot-on. This right here is the worst kind of woman, and I definitely shouldn’t get involved for any longer than it takes me to fuck her brains out. Yet when I should be closing down the window and returning to my reply to Lucinda and clicking send, I find myself mindlessly clicking on more images, instead. I sift through dozens of photographs, some of her leaving clubs, some of her at parties, some of her strolling down a London street with piles of shopping bags weighing her down. Then there are the professional shots, mostly for fashion brands and designers. I frown when Wikipedia comes up on the screen. She has a fucking Wikipedia page? I sigh, but still find myself clicking on the link and reading on.

Camille Logan, youngest child of business tycoon Trevor Logan and renowned party girl. Born June 29, 1991, Camille studied fashion at London College briefly before being headhunted by Elite Models. She lives in central London and is a regular face on the social circuit. Romantic links include Sebastian Peters, heir to Peters Communications. Camille boosts typical model stats: 5’8” tall, 34” inseam, 30C bra size, and 25” waist. Blond hair, blue eyes. After a rough breakup with Peters last year, Camille admitted herself to The Priory Clinic to overcome a cocaine addiction. She’s since picked up her modeling career and represents brands such as Karl Lagerfeld, Gucci, and Boss.

 

I slump back in my chair, shocked. “They give her fucking stats?” My mind twists in disbelief as I return to my e-mail and add a P.S.

Not even for a million! It’s a pass.

 

I don’t add a thanks. Lucinda must have lost her fucking mind. And with that, I slam my laptop shut.

* * *

 

I swirl the amber liquid in the glass, watching the smooth swish of my drink as it coats the inside of the glass. How many is this tonight? Ten? Eleven? I breathe out and knock it back, slamming my empty on the bar. The bartender immediately refills my glass, and I nod my thanks, resting my elbows on the bar. I’m aware of the looks being pointed in my direction by the women here, all of them willing me to glance up so they can catch my eye. But if I give any one of them even a hint of my attention, the night will end up how most of them have recently. A fuck, a good-bye, and a slap. And repeat. Just a drink tonight. Just a drink.

My knuckles wedge themselves in my eye sockets and rub harshly. With a lack of a distraction, whether it be an assignment or a woman to fuck, the fight to stop my mind from wandering to past, dark places is a battle like no other. Faces start to flicker through my mind, faces that haunt me daily. Explosions rattle my brain, and my resting heart starts to crank up in speed.

“Motherfucker,” I breathe, looking up and finding a woman batting her eyelashes at me from across the bar. She’s a respite from my personal torture that I’m going to take, but just as I’m rising from my stool to go over, the deafening sound of smashing glass has me reaching for the bar to steady myself. My heart is in my fucking throat, my mind whizzing frantically through familiar scenes. Shattering windows, explosions from enemy fire, screams of fear. I try to talk myself down, my eyes darting around the bar in an attempt to remind myself where I am. The bartender curses, and I glance over to find him looking at the mess of broken glass at his feet.

“Hey, handsome.”

My eyes shoot to my side and find the woman from across the bar, smiling seductively. The notion that I could grab her, drag her back to my apartment, and fuck her until my heart is hammering for another reason doesn’t settle me like it should.

I can’t see her face. I can only see my past. This isn’t going to work.

I reach for the inside pocket of my jacket and pull out my pills, unscrewing the cap as I stalk out of the bar. I need something to focus on and I need it quickly. The flashbacks are becoming more frequent and my pills less effective.

If I keep going at this rate, I’ll be taking Camille Logan’s room at The Priory Clinic. I’ll be back to where I was four years ago—lost, wasted and with nothing to do but constantly torture myself and relive my nightmares. They’ll never leave me, but I can limit them. I just need to force my personal shit to the side and see Camille Logan for what she is.

A job. Focus on the mission. That’s it. That’s all I have.

I pull out my phone and dial my lifeline.

“I was just about to call you,” Lucinda says in greeting.

“The Logan job. I’ll take it.” I don’t give a shit who the client is. A woman, a kid, a fucking monkey. I just need to work. Nothing could be worse than this.

“Good,” she replies simply, not making a big deal of it. “Glad you’ve saved me from having to kick your arse into shape.”

My heart starts to ease up a little. “Someone needs to,” I mutter.

“Where are you?”

“Chelsea.”

“In a bar?”

“Just leaving.”

“With?”

“No one.”

She laughs, like she doesn’t believe me. Which she undoubtedly doesn’t. “Get a good night’s sleep, Jake. And be at Logan Tower tomorrow at three. One hundred grand will be deposited into your account in the morning.” She hangs up and I head home, my mind now centered on the job ahead and that alone. I’m the best at the security firm I work for. I’m not blowing smoke up my own arse. It’s a cold, hard fact.

You want to keep someone safe, you hire me. I have a clean sheet. I plan on keeping it that way.

My head is in the game.

 

 

Chapter 2

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